How about working at US Space agency NASA? Well, it’s a dream for many, who thrive for a job out of this world. NASA has plans to keep its foot beyond the moon and to Mars and to achieve this goal, the space agency will require immense man power.
Recently, during the NASA hiring process for a new class of astronauts, 18,300 applied and out of this whopping number only 12 got selected, CNNMoney reported.
CNNMoney spoke to Donald Pettit, 62-year-old NASA astronaut and Greg Johnson, a former Astronaut and now president of the Center for Advancement of Science in Space about the job openings at NASA.
“Our work ranges from the everyday operating of our facilities, to exploring furthest limits of the past, present, and future,” reads a description.
Qualification required for the job
If you want to apply for a job at NASA, you must possess a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering or math. Post Graduation and work experience in the same field is also a must to qualify for the job at NASA.
“Astronaut candidates must also have skills in leadership, teamwork and communications,” NASA says on its website.
Previously, NASA had trained astronauts with backgrounds such as medical doctors, vets, oceanographers, and more.
About 120 shortlisted candidates are called for the second round – physical fitness tests – held at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The candidates are tested for good eyesight, they must have height between 5 feet 2 inches and 6 feet 3 inches, stable blood pressure not more than 140/90 in a sitting position.
Next is an endurance test followed by a string of interviews. If you think you are eligible to apply, here's a list of current job openings at NASA.
"It's a very special opportunity," Johnson said. He advised the next class of astronaut candidates to "take advantage of it" because "for each astronaut, there's 100 behind us equally qualified," reports CNNMoney in their interview.
The training and evaluation period
Once you get selected, you are required to undergo a massive 2-year training and evaluation period. "It's like getting a full four-year college degree compressed into two years," Pettit said. "There's no summer breaks."
The candidates are taught skills that come in handy during an actual mission. The tasks include:
#With a flight suit and tennis shoes on, you will be asked to perform swim laps in a 25-meter pool and tread water for 10 minutes.
#As the underwater environment is similar to the vacuum of space, you will have to become SCUBA certified.
#In order to mimick zero-gravity environment in space, you will need to ride up and down in a jet aircraft. Trainees may be asked to take at least 40 of such rides in a day.
#Since you will have to communicate with cosmonauts at the International Space Station and during the launch, you will need to learn Russian language.
#Those bulky spacesuits are not easy to handle and are quite uncomfortable, hence you would be required to get comfortable with them.
“They’re hot and uncomfortable, and when you get out of them, you kind of slither out of them like a worm... like a slimy creature that just crawled out of a chrysalis,” Pettit says.
Time to head to space?
No, not yet. After completing the stage two of training, you would still need to complete another level of specific space training, which tells you what you would be doing in space. This level of training starts months before you even head to the cockpit wearing spacesuit. An astronaut go through a 2/3 year extra training for just a six-month stint at the space station.
What astronauts do at space station?
When you are finally ready to head to the space station, you will be assigned experiments to be performed, researches to be conducted and hardware repairs out there.
Pettit says he used to get one-day week off during his six-month mission at the ISS.
What will be the pay like?
The most important question but Pettit says "Nobody gets rich" as NASA restricts astronauts from making financial gains. They cannot accept gifts from aerospace companies and can’t earn royalties for writing books.
NASA pays between $66,026 and $144,566 (approximately INR 44.2 lakhs to INR 1 crore) per year to astronauts who are first starting out.
“The grade is determined in accordance with each individual’s academic achievements and experience,” says NASA.
NASA is ranked the first in best places to work among the 18 US federal government agencies, including the Department of State (4) and the Intelligence Community (3).